Chinas Cultural Relics (Art History eBook)

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    CIP

    /; .

    2004.9

    ISBN 7-5085-0456-9

    . .

    . . K87

    CIP2004018379

    31 100088

    200491

    200491

    720965 1/16

    55

    10.75

    ISBN 7-5085-0456-9/K509

    85.00

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    Contents

    CONTENTS

    Prelude................................................. 1

    1 Painted Pottery............................... 3

    2 Jade Artifacts................................. 15

    3 Bronze Ware................................... 27

    4 Figurines......................................... 43

    5 Mausoleum Sculptures of Stone... 63

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    6 Tomb Carvings and Murals............ 75

    7 Grotto Temples and Formative

    Art of Buddhism............................. 91

    8 Gold and Silver Artifacts.............. 109

    9 Porcelain....................................... 119

    10 Furniture.................................... 137

    11 Lacquer Works........................... 147

    12 Arts and Crafts.......................... 155

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    1

    Prelude

    The Chinese civilization is one of the four most

    ancient in the world. Relative to the Egyptian, Indian

    and Tigris-Euphrates civilizations, it is characterized

    by a con sistenc y and co nt inuity thr ough ou t the

    milleniums. Rooted deep in this unique civilization

    originating from the Yangtze and Yellow River

    valleys, a yellow race known as the Chinese has,

    generation after generation, stuck to a unique culturaltradition. This tradition has remained basically

    unchanged even though political power has changed

    hands numerous times. Alien ethnic groups invaded

    the countrys heartland numerous times, but in the

    end all of them became members of a united family

    called China.

    Cultural relics, immeasurably large in quantity

    and diverse in variety and artistic style, bespeak therichness and profoundness of the Chinese civilization.

    These, as a matter of fact, cover all areas of the human

    races tangible culture. This book classifies Chinas

    cultural relics into two major categories, immovable

    relics and removable relics.Immovable relics refer

    to those found on the ground and beneath, including

    Prelude

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    ChinasCulturalRelics

    ancient ruins, buildings, tombs and grotto temples. Removable relics include

    stone, pottery, jade and bronze artifacts, stone carvings, pottery figurines, Buddhist

    statues, gold an silver articles, porcelain ware, lacquer works, bamboo and wooden

    articles, furniture, paintings and calligraphic works, as well as works of classic

    literature. This book is devoted to removable cultural relics, though from time to

    time it touches on those of the first category.

    Far back in the 11th

    century, when China was under the reign of the North SongDynasty, scholars, many of whom doubled as officials, were already studying

    scripts and texts inscribed on ancient bronze vessels and stone tablets. As time

    went by, an independent academic discipline came into being in the country, which

    takes all cultural relics as subjects for study. New China boasts numerous

    archeological wonders thanks to field studies and excavations that have never

    come to a halt ever since it was born in 1949. This is true especially to the most

    recent two decades of an unprecedented construction boom in China under the

    state policy of reform and opening to the outside world, in the course of whichnumerous cultural treasures have been brought to daylight from beneath the

    ground.

    Readers may count on this book for a brief account of Chinas cultural relics

    of 12 kinds pottery, jade artifacts, bronze ware, figurines, carvings on stone

    tablets, murals, grottoes and formative art of Buddhism, gold and silver artifacts,

    porcelain, furniture, lacquer works, and arts and handicrafts articles. Well

    concentrate, however, on the most representative, most brilliant works of each

    kind while briefing you on their origin and development.Unfortunately, the book is too small to include many other kinds of cultural

    relics unique to China, for example those related to ancient Chinese mintage,

    printing and publication of Chinese classics, traditional Chinese paintings and

    calligraphy. To cite an old Chinese saying, what we have done is just a single drop

    of water in an ocean. Despite that, we hope youll like this book, from which we

    believe youll gain some knowledge of the traditional Chinese culture.

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    Prelude

    Origin of pottery art

    Development of painted pottery

    Decorative patterns on painted pottery of the

    Yangshao culture

    Painted patterns on Yangshao pottery (1)

    Painted patterns on Yangshao pottery (2)

    Painted patterns on Yangshao pottery (3)

    Prehistory pottery later than those of the

    Yangshao culture

    1Pained Pottery

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    ChinasCulturalRelics

    Among all cultural relics found in China, what we

    categorize as pottery was the first to come into being.

    Archeological documentation shows that the earliest

    pottery ware discovered so far was produced about

    10,000 years ago. It is in fact a pottery jar found in the

    Immortals Cave in Wannian County, Jiangxi Province,

    south China. The jar is also the oldest in such

    conditions as to allow a restoration in its entirety.

    Origin of poery art

    For people in the earliest stage of human

    development, it is earth on which they lived that gave

    them the earliest artistic inspiration. That may

    explains how the earliest pottery was made. The

    process seems pretty simple: mixing earth with water,

    shaping the mud by pressing and rubbing with hands

    and fingers until the roughcast of something useful

    was produced, placing the roughcast under a tree for

    air drying and then baking it in fire until it becomes

    hardened.

    Before they began producing clay ware, prehistory

    people had, for many, many milleniums, limited

    themselves to changing the shapes of things in nature

    to make them into production tools or personal

    ornaments. For example, they crushed rocks into

    sharp pieces for use as tools or weapons, and

    produced necklaces by stringing animal teeth or

    oyster shells with holes they had drilled through.

    Picture shows a white pottery vessel of the

    Longshan culture, which was unearthed at

    Weifang, Shandong Province.

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    Pained Pottery

    5Pottery making, however, was revolutionary in that

    it was the very first thing done by the human race to

    transform one thing into another, representing the

    beginning of human effort to change Nature according

    to Mans own design and conception. Prehistory

    pottery vessels are crude in shape, and the color is

    inconsistent because their producers were yet to learn

    how to control the temperature of fire to ensure

    quality of what they intended to produce. Despite

    that, prehistory pottery represents a breakthrough in

    human development.

    Regretfully, scholars differ on exactly how and

    when pottery making began. According to a most

    popular assumption, however, prehistory people may

    have been inspired after they found, by accident, that

    mud-coated baskets placed beside a fire often became

    pervious to water.

    Development of painted poery

    At first, pottery vessels were produced just for

    practical use, as their producers had no time and

    energy to spare to decorate their products for some

    sort of aesthetic taste. Among the earliest pottery ware

    unearthed so far, only a few containers have crude

    lines painted red round their necks.

    As life improved along with development of

    primitive agriculture, people came to have time to

    spare on undertakings other than for a mere

    Picture shows a pottery jar of the Yangshao

    culture that existed 5,600 years ago, which

    was unearthed at Dadiwan, Qinan County,

    Gansu Province. The upper part of the jar

    takes the shape of a human head.

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    subsistence crop farming, hunting, animal raising, etc. While still serving peoples

    practical needs, pottery became something denoting peoples pursuit of beauty

    as well. Painted pottery came into being as a result, representing a great leap

    forward in the development of potterymaking. Among prehistoric relics we have

    found, painted pottery ware are the earliest artifacts featuring a combination of

    practical use and artistic beauty.

    Painted pottery making had its heyday 7,000-5,000 years ago, during the

    mid- and late periods of the New Stone Age. The most representative painted

    pottery ware, mostly containers and eating utensils, were produced in areas on

    the upper and middle reaches of the Yellow River including what

    is now Gansu and Shaanxi provinces, on which decorative

    lines and animal figures painted in color are found.

    Without furniture with legs, prehistory people just

    sat on the ground when they ate or met. For this reason,

    decorative patterns and figures were painted on parts of

    a pottery vessel fully exposed to view for example, the part

    below the inner or outer side of the mouth of a bowl and, in

    some cases, decorations on the inner side extending to the

    bottom. On a basin with an extruding belly, we find

    decorative patterns below and on the fringe of the

    mouth and above the curve. In comparison, no

    decoration is seen below the curve because

    people sitting on the ground can hardly see

    that part . In the case of a large basin,

    decorative patterns are found inside, on the upper

    side of the inner wall. These are not on the outer wall,

    because people sitting round the basin cannot see it.

    Decorative patterns are found on the outer wall of a

    jar, mostly on the shoulder or above the belly. SmallPicture shows a pottery pot produced

    4,500-3,000 years ago, which was

    unearthed at Qinan, Gansu Province.

    It features a slender neck and a painted

    pattern resembling the face of a pig.

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    Pained Pottery

    7

    bottles in the shape of a gourd have decorative patterns all over them.

    Decorative paerns on painted poery of the Yangshaoculture

    Painted pottery of the Yangshao culture is recognized as the most representative

    of the prehistory painted pottery found in China.

    Back in 1921, ruins of a primitive village

    were found at Yangshao Village, Mianchi

    County, Henan Province, which were to be

    identified as belonging to a highly developed

    matriarchal society existed in central China.

    Many cultural relics have been unearthed from

    the site since then. Included are pottery utensils

    for daily use, which are valued not only for their

    cultural importance but also for the workmanship

    with which they were produced. Earth to be

    used for making the roughcasts with was rinsed

    and, for that, most products are of the same

    color as their roughcasts. To be more precise,

    products produced with roughcasts of fine mud

    Here is a painted pottery bowl

    of the Dawenkou culture that

    existed 4,500-2,500 years ago. It

    was unearthed at Peixian County,

    Jiangsu Province.

    Picture shows a pottery jar identified as of

    the Majiayao culture, which was produced

    3,300-2,900 years ago. It was unearthed at

    Lintao County, Gansu Province.

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    Painted pottery jars produced 3,000-2,000 years

    ago, which belong to the Majiayao culture.

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    Pained Pottery

    9are red, and those produced with roughcasts of fine

    mud mixed with fine grains of sand are brownish red.

    Most decorative patterns were painted in black, and

    the rest in red. Sometimes a thin layer of red or white

    coating was applied to the roughcasts, on which

    decorative patterns were then painted, in order to

    ensure a greater contrast of the colors.

    The Yangshao culture dates back to a period from

    5,000 years BC to 3,000 years BC. Primitive sites and

    ruins found later in other parts of central China are

    culturally similar to the Yangshao ruins. For that, the

    Yangshao culture has been recognized as synonym of

    the culture prevalent in central China during the

    matriarchal clan society in a region with Gansu,

    Shaanxi and Henan as center while encompassing

    Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Shanxi, Qinghai, as well as

    parts of Hubei.

    Painted paerns on Yangshaopoery (1)

    In 1957, the so-called Miaodigou branch of the

    Yangshao culture became known with excavation of

    a primitive site at Miaodigou in Sanmenxia City,

    Henan Province, which archeologists believe existed

    during the transition of the Yangshao culture to the

    Longshan culture. Painted pottery utensils found at

    Miaodigou were produced around 3,900 years BC.

    Flying birds, distorted bird patterns done with crude

    Picture shows a painted pottery cup produced

    3,000-2,000 years ago. Identified as of the

    Tanshishan culture, the cup was unearthed at

    Minhou, Fujian Province.

    Picture shows a painted pottery pot in the shape

    of a boat, a relic of the Yangshao culture that

    existed 4,800-4,300 years ago. It was unearthed

    at Baoji City, Shaanxi Province.

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    lines and frogs in a style of realism are the main patterns on them.

    Fish and distorted fish patterns, sometimes with fishing net patterns,

    characterize pottery utensils found at Banpo in Shaanxi Province. Archeologists

    believe these represent another branch of the Yangshao culture, which is earlier

    than the Miaodigou branch. Images of frogs are painted on the inner side of pottery

    basins found at Banpo, and deer are the only animal figures on Banpo pottery

    ware.

    Painted paerns onYangshao poery (2)

    What merit even greater attention,

    however, are painted pottery utensils

    f o u n d a t a p l a c e a l s o c a l l e d

    Miaodigou on the foot of Mt.

    Huashan in Shaanxi . These are

    be autif ul wi th st rings of deco ra tive

    patterns painstakingly designed and

    arranged. Research has led to the discovery

    that the workmen first used dots to mark the

    position of each pattern on the roughcast of a

    utensil, and then linked the patterns with

    straight lines or curved triangles to form a

    decorative belt vigorous and rhythmic in artistic

    style. A careful viewer wont miss those lines cut in intaglio or relief, forming rose

    flowers, buds, leaves and stems.

    Pottery utensils of the same Yangshao culture that are found in different places

    invariably have different theme patterns for their decorative belts. Nevertheless,

    patterns with rose flowers as the theme decoration are found on pottery of all

    Produced 4,800-4,300 years ago, this

    pottery basin is one of the cultural relics

    unearthed at the Banpo ruins of the New

    Stone Age in Xian, Shaanxi Province.

    The decorative pattern features a humanface with two fish in the mouth.

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    Pained Pottery

    11types, indicating an inherent link of theirs.

    Painted paerns on Yangshao poer...